On Tuesday, Bexar County commissioners adjourned their final meeting of 2020. But Chico Rodriguez (Pct. 1) and Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3) walked out of the room for the last time as members of the Commissioners Court.

Rodriguez said he was proud of his 16 years on the dais.

“Precinct 1 has really developed,” Rodriguez said. “In 2005 and 2006 when we took office, there was a moratorium. We lifted the moratorium and created Alamo Ranch. And I’ll never forget what Paul [Elizondo] said – be careful what you wish for. And lo and behold, we’re here today.”

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff commended Rodriguez for helping his precinct grow and develop during his tenure.

“You changed the face of South San Antonio,” Wolff said. “Mission Reach to the river – largest ecological restoration of a river, tying together the four missions and allowing us to get the only worldwide recognition of historic places that Texas has. The first Bibliotech opening [in your precinct] … numerous road and flood projects in your district, creek improvements. You’ve left a mark and we’re very thankful for what you’ve done.”

Commissioner Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2) joked that he had been dreading the day his colleague with the same last name left the court. 

“I actually served the fewest amount of years with Mr. Rodriguez, but we’ve known each other I think all of your 16 years,” Rodriguez said.

“I just want to thank you for your friendship – which is not going away; we’ll still have those good times. But I know you’ve served admirably and the judge mentioned a lot of those accomplishments. … I’m also going to miss having another Commissioner Rodriguez because I can’t blame [things] on you.”

Commissioner Wolff credited Chico Rodriguez for advising him on South San Antonio’s transportation needs and said they were able to “get some really great things done.”

“While we started out as colleagues 12 years ago, we’ve since become friends and that’s even more special to me,” Wolff said. “I’m kind of looking forward to going fishing and hunting with him. I expect many invitations, Chico.”

Rodriguez promised Wolff future hunting and fishing trips together and commended him for his conviction.

“If you said you were for something, whether we all agreed on it up here or not – and most of the time, we probably didn’t – but you still stood by your vote and I got to admire you for that,” Rodriguez said.

Bexar County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez (Pct. 1). Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) joked that Wolff often thought of him as “a smart – and then we’ll fill in the rest of the blanks with three letters.” But he highlighted Wolff’s thoughtfulness, despite their conflicts on the court.

“Perhaps my first memory with you on this court was my first day, my first meeting Jan 6,” Calvert said. “I couldn’t figure out where we were on the agenda. And he came over and showed me how to read the agenda. And I never will forget that moment, because of course you’re trying to get your footing around here … there’s a lot they don’t teach you.” 

Wolff thanked his colleagues for working alongside him and said his daughter and wife are grateful that he decided to move on from Commissioners Court. 

“It’s not an individual operation, and it takes those that are close to you and around you to be supportive, because these are not easy jobs,” he said.

He addressed incoming Commissioners Rebeca Clay-Flores, who will represent Precinct 1, and Trish DeBerry, who will succeed him in Precinct 3, with advice “whether you want it or not.” Both were present Tuesday.

“Thank God we’re getting rid of some of the testosterone on Commissioners Court and replacing it with some new opinions and energy,” Wolff said. “However, I want to caution both of you that you’re not elected to these positions to make easy decisions. You’re elected to make hard decisions. And I promise you, it’s going to be difficult to do that.”

Bexar County commissioners also voted unanimously Tuesday to apply unspent federal coronavirus relief funding toward relevant general fund expenses ahead of the Dec. 30 spending deadline. The County’s coronavirus relief programs will continue past the deadline and into 2021, said David Marquez, executive director of the County’s economic and community development department. For example, the County has spent $1.8 million in federal coronavirus relief funding on workforce programs, but going forward those will be paid for by the County’s general fund, Marquez said.

“We will bring you back a recommendation sometime early next year revisiting all of the COVID workforce programs and along with the rest of our workforce initiatives,” he told commissioners. 

Commissioners also approved putting an additional $1 million toward Community Labs’ coronavirus testing in schools and another $1.4 million toward restaurant and bar relief

“We’re recommending that we reopen the application so that we can encourage businesses that maybe didn’t have an opportunity to apply during the last window,” said Deborah Carter, director of economic development.

The County received 341 applications from restaurants and bars seeking $12 million in pandemic relief grants but had only $4.6 million to distribute. The next wave of applicants will go through the same random lottery process for a grant.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.